The Pittsburgh Penguins are finally healthy, well as healthy as they're going to be (save Christian Ehrhoff who's dealing with the murky symptoms of a concussion) but are they still looking to add a forward and a defenseman? From today's Pierre LeBrun's rumblings:
The Penguins made a few moves early, but they hope to add another piece before March 2.
Among the forwards Pittsburgh is keeping a close on these days are Toronto Maple Leafs teammates Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli. Both are pending unrestricted free agents headed out the door and both carry cheap cap hits, which is very important to a cap-tight team such as Pittsburgh.
Thing is, they're hardly alone in eyeing one of those two players for just that reason. It's believed the Leafs are asking for a second-round pick for each of those players, a fairly high price that some teams are balking at right now, but given the interest, they just might get it from somebody.
On defense, I think the Pens would like to add a bit more experience if they can swing it. Those on their radar include Cody Franson, Jeff Petry and, to a lesser degree, Scott Hannan and Jan Hejda.
If Marc Methot doesn't re-sign with the Ottawa Senators, he'd be another guy to throw on the list, although the competition would be fierce for his services.
Winnik is a name that the guys like LeBrun, Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie have mentioned the Penguins have had much interest in, including right before the Marcel Goc for Maxim Lapierre trade, with the insiders saying that Toronto turned the Pens down at that time. (Smart money is Pittsburgh wanted to deal Goc to Toronto for him, as the cap hits match up and it's a similar role). Could the Pens be trying to add more up front? It would be an encouraging sign- Zach Sill is already at healthy scratch status but Craig Adams still looms large as a huge negative on the 4th line.
Defensively, however, it would not seem very encouraging if the Pens add a veteran. The price is always sky high for defensemen and the team doesn't have a 1 st or 3 rd round pick already this June. Additionally, if they need to add someone, is that indicating that they project Ehrhoff to be out for an unknown- but significant- amount of time? It would seem so.
That said, the Penguins SHOULD have interest in defensemen- Robert Bortuzzo/Derrick Pouliot are struggling as a pair in the past few games. Bortuzzo doesn't belong in the lineup of a solid NHL playoff team, and Pouliot is young and green enough that he might not be a great option either for the cauldron known as the NHL playoffs. Even if Ehrhoff is able to return, the team could use a partner that can handle traditional second pair minutes, the options right now aren't great. But then again, the salary cap and high prices to give up in a trade aren't ideal either
Jim Rutherford has been very active in his few months on the job, shuffling the deck and building a pretty good team around the Pens nucleus of stars. Between now and March 2nd's trade deadline will be the most critical touch he has to finish off the Pens playoff roster, balanced in with how much gutting of future prospect/picks that he's willing to sacrifice to do so.